Smith County commissioners call for judge's resignation

Smith County commissioners call for judge's resignation

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Smith County commissioners called for the resignation of County Judge Joel Baker during a Tuesday commissioners court meeting centering on county leadership.

"I have no confidence in his continued leadership as county judge and I'm asking him to resign," Commissioner Cary Nix said during the meeting. He also pointed out Baker's contributions to the county over the years and said he hoped they were not overlooked.

The discussion item was placed on the agenda by Nix, following KLTV's investigation into allegations. Nix said he placed the item up for discussion after a number of constituents expressed concerns, including some who have called for Baker's resignation.

Commissioner Terry Phillips also asked Baker to resign, saying that after speaking with his constituents, he felt the move was necessary.

"His leadership is in question ... I trust Judge Baker to make the right decision for him and his family and Smith County," Phillips said.

The courtroom was standing room only as county residents addressed the court. Most commenters were in favor of Baker's resignation, though others expressed their support for the judge who is under scrutiny for allegations he was sexting while on county and state trips.

One woman proposed a petition seeking Baker's resignation.

"For the sake of your family and for the sake of this court, please resign," she said, before adding that residents are prepared to start a petition. "Trust me, you will be removed. … We have stood together and elected you and had faith in you. But now is the time for you to trust us and resign."

Another woman expressed her condolences for the scrutiny on Baker's family.

"I feel sorry for your family," she said.

Baker interjected, saying, "This is not about my family. … This is not a personal matter, this is a professional matter, if you have to discuss county business, please stick to that."

He later canceled her time after she failed to put a proposal before the court.

"I'm going to ask that your time be canceled. This is not a forum to attack any person's integrity, you may sit down," he said.

Others also approached the court to comment on the court's leadership and make other proposals.

Another source we spoke with explained that while items can be discussed and opinions of confidence made by the court, there is no real action commissioners can take against a fellow member including the judge. Commissioners cannot force a resignation. That is primarily left to residents of the county in a civil suit or District Attorney's office outlined in the Texas local government code.

After the discussion of county leadership, commissioners moved on to other business, including signage and awnings.

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